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Tuesday, 10 May 1960

Mr Kearney (CUNNINGHAM, NEW SOUTH WALES) y asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

1.   Can the Minister say whether the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Co. of Port Kembla is short of copper concentrates for the operation of its new million pound sintering plant?

2.   ls this due to what has been described by the Minister for Trade as the old-fashioned system of the producer of raw material selling to the highest bidder?

3.   Is the total output of copper concentrates of Peko Mines Limited of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, being sold to a Japanese company?

4.   Is the Government in favour of export arrangements of this nature; if so, has consideration been given to the needs of Australian industry?

5.   Is it intended by the Government that similar arrangements should apply to other raw materials; if not, what materials are to be excluded?

6.   Has he or his Department investigated what possible effects export arrangements of this type may have on employment and on inflationary processes in this country?

Sir Garfield Barwick - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Company of Australia Proprietary Limited has written to me indicating that it is unable to secure sufficient supplies of copper concentrates from local mines for the operation of its smelter, including sinter plant, at a satisfactory level of output.

2.   ft is understood that the principal factor has been the higher return available to Australian producers of copper concentrates from exporting to Japan.

3.   Yes. 4 and 5. The Government's objective is to eliminate or liberalize controls over industry and trade. Few raw materials are still subject to restriction upon export. All primary and secondary materials of the more important non ferrous metals industries are now freely exportable. It is not believed that the export of copper concentrates will result in Australian fabricators of copper being unable to secure sufficient supplies for their requirements. The customs duty which is applicable to the import of copper and the bounty which is payable under the production of copper in Australia have the effect of encouraging the treatment of unrefined copper within Australia during periods when the overseas price of copper is relatively low.

6.   It is not considered that freedom to export raw materials need have any adverse effect on the overall level of employment or the general level of prices in Australia. The Government's policy is to give any protection to Australian industries after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board; it is likely that the Minister for Trade will receive a Tariff Board report relating to unwrought copper within the next few weeks. The position of the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Company of Australia Proprietary Limited will be considered in the light of this report.

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